Does Santa Claus exists; or as some prefer to put the question: Is the world an illusion?
Yes is the answer. I don’t necessarily understand the word illusion as being a false idea or belief, rather I claim that illusions are not false per se.
Allow me to clarify. I don’t believe that the world is a given, I doubt that an unchangeable certainty exists, save that we shall all die one day. I don’t believe that empiricism can be reduced to what can be observed, that is to say something which can be weighed (e.g. chairs or tables) or measured (e.g. the distance to a chair). Rather, like the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, I concur with the idea that what we call empirical might also be subjective, even illusionary, like a thought, a hallucination, or a picture. In that sense, an illusion can be seen as a force that works within the real, making the real more real or enhancing the world.
Another way of saying this would be to claim that Harry Potter, Santa Claus, a unicorn or flying dragons are real. They all exist, not only in the sense that it makes sense for me to mention them here, but they can also serve as a way of understand or describing aspects of this world. Harry Potter is just as real as black holes! Or take money—a rather useless piece of paper or digital number in your account—many people believe in the value of money because it works. I can change a five Euro note into six beers or three red roses. Actually, money is just as real as Santa Claus! Just by writing and sending him a letter, many children experience that he works. Just by buying presents, many parents confirm his existence.
Whether the world is an illusion or not is a metaphysical question, a metaphysics of being versus one of becoming. According to Popper, metaphysical questions can’t be proved, only be more or less convincing answered based on our experiences—including one that takes illusions or hallucinations serious. Furthermore, there are also some practical consequences related to our metaphysical belief. For example, a too rigid belief in a given world architecture, easily leads to stubborn attitude toward being true or false, right or wrong. Perhaps what we witness in today’s identity politics, exclusive moralism, and fanaticism?
A metaphysic of becoming is more humble, when various potentials, movements, hallucinations, or illusions are actualized (and accepted) as real due to their capacity to change how we see and understand reality. If I’m right about this illusion, assuming that is even possible, then it confirms that life as such can never be owned or grasped fully. All we can do is make room for that which brings life—and here illusions are just as powerful as hardcore science.